The New York City Parks Department offers FREE aquatic programs for children under 18 all year round.
During the fall, winter and spring, the Parks Department’s swimming lessons are held at indoor recreation center pools throughout NYC. To try to snag a spot, you need to enter an online lottery. During the summer months, the lessons are held at the City’s outdoor pools and the time is here to register for those. We’ve got the scoop on how to apply for the swim lesson lottery as well as additional information about these popular programs.
The Parks Department is holding an online lottery for summer swimming lessons beginning on Monday, June 15 at 4am. There are three sessions this summer:
Session I: Tuesday, July 7-Tuesday, July 21 – lottery ends Sunday, June 28 at noon
Session II: Thursday, July 23-Thursday, August 6 – lottery ends Monday, July 13 at noon
Session III: Monday, August 10-Friday, August 21 – lottery ends Monday, August 3 at noon
Results will be emailed a few days after each lottery ends. Below are the programs that will be on offer. Locations and schedule info are available on the registration page.
Summer Swimming Programs for Kids and Adults
Summer Learn to Swim Lessons
Three sessions: Tuesday, July 7-Tuesday, July 21; Thursday, July 23-Thursday, August 6; and Monday, August 10-Friday, August 21.
Children are organized into two age groups (1½-5 and 6-17) and taught basic water safety and swimming skills on weekday mornings. Note: Kids ages 1½-5 must be accompanied by a parent, and there’s a required ratio of one parent to each child. So if you’ve got two, both of you must come along! (If you’re got three or more, find a really nice friend.) Adult swimming lessons are also offered on weeknights as well as adult water aerobics classes.
Children who can swim freestyle for 25 meters or more with relative ease can try out. In addition to getting free training, they’ll be able to compete in the annual Borough Cup Championship swimming competition. Call Aquatics at 718-760-6969 for registration information.
Ages 18 and up
During designated hours between Monday, July 6 and Friday, August 28, adults can hit the pool without having to worry about those pesky kids getting in the way. Every participant who swims 25 miles or more over the summer will receive a free T-shirt. Prizes will also be awarded to the top three male and female distance swimmers at each pool. To swim, you need to register online and you’ll pick up a season admission card on the first day.
Ages 62 and up
Seniors can keep in shape with water exercise classes, swim instruction and even water ballet during designated hours. The program will run from Monday, July 6-Friday, August 21.
Ages 6 and up
Throughout July and August, swimmers with special needs can enjoy time in the water. An online lottery will be held for registration beginning on Monday, June 15. The lottery closes on Friday, July 3. Winners will be notified via phone call shortly thereafter.
The Parks Department holds seasonal online lotteries for fall, winter and spring swimming lessons. We will update this post as the new season approaches. Note: You must also be a member of the Recreation Center where you’d like to swim. Membership is FREE for children under 18 but there are fees for adults. That means children old enough to swim on their own (ages 6 and up) can learn at no cost.
Below are the programs that are usually on offer. Locations and schedule info are available on the registration page. Remember, you’re also required to be a member of the Recreation Center where you’d like to swim. Membership is FREE for children under 18 but there is an annual fee for adults. Find out how to become a member on the Parks Department’s website.
For any child ages 1½ to 5, an adult is required to be in the water. We called Citywide Aquatics and confirmed that if you must accompany your child in the water, you also need to be a member of the Recreation Center. However, if your child is old enough to swim on his or her own, the parent does not need to buy a membership. If you run into registration issues, call Citywide Aquatics at 718-760-6969 ext. 0.
Free Saturday Learn-to-Swim Lessons
Off-season learn-to-swim lessons are organized into three age groups: 1½ to 5, 6 to 17 and everyone else. Children ages 1½ to 5 must be accompanied by an adult in the water who is a member of the Recreation Center..
Free Swim Team
More advanced swimmers can hone their skills by joining a team. These sessions emphasize technique, endurance, speed and sportsmanship as participants train for the Borough Cup Championship. Tryouts are held on an ongoing basis. Kids must be able to swim 25 yards in reasonably good form in order to try out, and are required to submit a completed application and a copy of their birth certificate. Fill out the online form and then you’ll be able to schedule a tryout. Questions? Call Citywide Aquatics: 718-760-6969 ext. 0.
Free Adapted Aquatics Instruction
This program for people with special physical needs offers adapted workouts for those suffering from ailments resulting from injury, disease or aging. It’s offered at a handful of sites.
The Parks Department also offers learn-to-swim lessons during some school breaks so keep that in mind. There’s no lottery, instead you contact the Recreation Center of your choice to vie for a spot.
For more information about the Parks Department’s swim programs, call 718-760-6969 or visit the website.